This Big Ideas for Small Spaces is a little different from my visits to public gardens. In this talk, I chat with two avid garden visitors, Cheryl Alloway and Marge Bonner. Cheryl and Marge don’t just enjoy gardens for their beauty, they study them for ideas to bring home or use in gardens they design. Here they share some of what they’ve gleaned through the years. The video is below, followed by a list of some of their top take away tips.
If you’d rather view and read the slide show, it is divided into 2 parts. Part 1 begins on page 2. We discuss garden styles, color, favorite plants, and embellishments. Part 2 delves into garden structures, from practical fencing to fantasy waterfalls. I hope you enjoy both and check out the other Big Ideas for Small Spaces talks.
Click to Page 2, for the slide show…
And you’ll find Part 2 here.
Smart Gardening Ideas from Visiting Gardens
❦ If you have a change in elevation in your garden, instead of just leaving it as a slope, create a couple of steps that make you feel like you’re stepping into another plane, when you step down into the garden.
❦ You can have a variety of plants, with different textures, sizes, and colors, and still have a feeling of unity and continuity if you repeat shapes. Mounds, in particular, seem to roll into one another and keep you moving through the garden, without being jarring. It’s also a nice way to grow a lot of plants in a small space, without it feeling like they’re encroaching on one another.
❦ Be careful with self-sowers. They will start to dictate your color scheme. Marge’s Black-eyed Susans have spread throughout her property. Even though she doesn’t like the combination of yellow and red, she often finds it happening by accident.
❦ If you want your shade garden to look intentional and not just wild, think about using mass plantings, rather than one or 2 of this and 2 or 3 of that. Sweeps of plants, especially some with variegated leaves, will have more impact in shade.
❦ Blues and purples tend to recede, unless they have a contracting color. Yellow makes purple and blue plants much more noticeable to people viewing your garden, especially at a distance.
❦ Wide, curving steps encourage people to walk slowly and take in the view. Strategically placed steps, within plantings will have people stopping periodically on their way down, without even realizing it.
❦ Plants need a backdrop to stand out in the landscape. Stone walls, even a gray wood pile that you’re trying to disguise, will stop the eye from wandering off and focus it on the plants in front of it.
❦ To being extra light or glints of light to a shady garden, place a mirror in the garden or hanging mirror pieces in trees.
❦ Creating a frame, with an arch, a pair of trees or tall plants, or even a structure, will not just direct your eye, it will entice you to continue on through it.
❦ Repeating colors and shapes gives a garden a sense of unity. You can use different materials and plants, but if your house is gray, a gray fence, pergola, or shed will pull them all together. And repeating even one color throughout your garden beds will give them some continuity.
❦ Embellishments and garden decorations are where you can truly personalize your garden, but they work best when they are incorporated into the garden in such a way that they seem to sneak up on you.
❦ When you find a garden feature that you love, don’t think you can’t recreate something like it in your garden, just because your garden is much smaller. Figure out the elements of the feature that you love and then use some creativity.
Plants That Pass the Test of Time
- Fountain grass ‘Karley Rose’
- Plume poppy (Macleaya cordata)
- Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
- Tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis)
- Conifers (There is one for every size garden.)